Washington: Flu virus can be transmitted even before the appearance of their symptoms as experiments with ferrets (European polecat) have shown, according to a study.If applied to human, it suggests that people pass on flu to others before they know they are infected, making it very difficult to contain epidemics.Knowing if people are infectious before they have symptoms is important to help authorities plan for an epidemic, but it has been difficult to establish this from data collected during outbreaks, the journal Public Library of Science ONE reports.Previous research using math models estimated that most flu transmission occurs after the onset of symptoms, but some happens earlier.The flu strain used in the study was from the 2009 swine flu pandemic, which killed almost 300,000 people worldwide. It is the first to investigate this question experimentally in an animal model. Ferrets are commonly used in flu research because they are susceptible to the same virus strains and show similar symptoms to humans.Ferrets with flu were put in contact with un-infected ferrets for short periods at different stages after infection. Transmission occurred before the first symptom.
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